Columbus — Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman is a Democrat.
He supports Democrats, and earlier this year he endorsed Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in his bid to unseat Republican Gov. John Kasich in November.
But Coleman also has participated in a number of press events in recent months with Kasich, praising the latter for state support of different initiatives in Ohio’s capital city.
That’s prompted lots of interesting questions about the political implications of the Democratic head of Ohio’s largest city and an accomplished office-holder in his own right vocally supporting some of the efforts of the state’s GOP chief executive.
“I put the needs of my community above all politics,” Coleman told reporters when asked about the issue back in early April, after the governor signed the $2.4 billion capital budget. “I’m the mayor of the city of Columbus, and Gov. Kasich has done a good thing for Columbus … I stand with those who stand with Columbus.”
Coleman stood with Columbus and Kasich again earlier in July at a press event spotlighting increased state and local support for the city’s early childhood education programming.
Thanks to state funding, Columbus is able to offer more pre-school slots for residents. Backer say that gives those involved, particularly kids living in needy neighborhoods, a leg up when they get to kindergarten and helps ensure successful future school years.
There was Coleman, up on stage in front of an audience, singing praises to Kasich and his cabinet members. And there was Kasich, up on the same stage, singing praises to Coleman.
“I know that some of you are saying … here they go again, the governor and the mayor making another joint announcement,” Coleman said in a preemptive commentary on his public appearances with the governor. “What is this all about, a Republican and a Democrat. The fact is, this is how it should work.”
Coleman added, “Kids don’t care what party you belong to. Kids don’t care if you are a D or an R. The fact is education should not depend on whether you are blue or red. What’s most important is that we give our kids a chance to succeed over and above all things else.”
The Columbus mayor also took a swipe at the partisans in our nation’s capital: “This is a lesson that the dysfunctional Congress should learn, and this is a lesson that the broken Washington, D.C., should learn as well, about how we do things in Columbus.”
Yes, Coleman is a Democrat. I don’t think anyone expects him to change his party affiliation.
Yes, Coleman has officially backed FitzGerald for governor. That endorsement likely carries weight among voters in Columbus and beyond.
But it’s a fair assumption that Coleman’s regular appearances and praise of Kasich will have a comparable effect on other voters, particularly those in neighborhoods benefiting from extra state funding.
And it’s the kind of bipartisan support that could help to position the governor for any potential future political endeavors.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.